Often when people hear domestic violence, they write it off as a women’s issue. It is true that a high percentage of victims are women, yet this issue should be thought of as one affecting everyone. Seventy-five percent of people in the United States will know someone affected by domestic violence. That person might be a friend, a partner, a parent, a neighbor, a relative, a co-worker, or an acquaintance. The likelihood of one encountering someone who has experienced domestic violence is incredibly high.
Despite this fact, domestic violence is not an issue that is openly discussed. Part of the reason is domestic violence is personal. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes messy. One might not realize he or she knows someone affected, because victims often do not come forward. That does not mean it never happened.
As a community Door County needs to recognize domestic violence does occur here. Awareness must be created. Without it people remain ignorant, there is no sensitivity, victims are blamed, and violence continues.
Instead, community members need to come together and educate themselves on this issue. They need to begin to talk openly and take a stand when they witness something that is not okay.
Opening the discussion and showing support can make a huge difference to someone who is struggling in a violent relationship. Whether it is on a personal level or a community level that is what victims need most: support.
How to support someone in a violent relationship
Listen. Just being there to listen without judgment can be a huge relief to someone who has experienced domestic violence.
Explain that it is not their fault. Often abusers will blame victims for their behavior. It’s important for victims to hear it’s not their fault and no one should be treated that way.
Inform them of resources. HELP of Door County, Inc. and other centers exist. If they are not comfortable meeting face-to-face they can call HELP’s hotline at 920.743.8818 or The National Domestic Violence hotline at 800.799.7233. Both are available 24/7.
Always be there. It can be frustrating when people will not leave a violent relationship, but it is important to understand there are many factors causing them not to leave. Continuing to support them will give them someone to turn to when they are ready.
This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.